'Rare' West African giraffe born at South Lakes Wildlife Park named

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Media captionVisitors have been getting an early glimpse of the newborn giraffe

A "rare" West African giraffe born at a Cumbrian wildlife park has been named Belle.

Small groups of visitors have been given an up-close look at the baby and her mother, Elouise.

The animal - believed to be the first of its type born in the UK - was found by keepers at South Lakes Wildlife Park at Dalton-in-Furness on Tuesday.

Among the world's rarest animals, there are around 35-40 in captivity in Europe and up to 450 in the wild in Niger.

Spokeswoman Karen Brewer said Belle was chosen "because, as it suggests, she is beautiful".

"Visitors have been in and out this morning in very small groups, keeping nice and quiet," she said.

"They have been as excited and elated as we are.

"We even had one little girl who'd woken up at 5am and asked her mum, 'Is it time to see the baby giraffe?'"

Both mother and baby are said to be doing well.

Another of the park's three female West African giraffes is pregnant by the sole male, Dayo, with her baby due around early summer.

Image copyright South Lakes Wildlife Park
Image caption Belle ventured outside for the first time as visitors lined up to get a glimpse of the rare giraffe

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